Woman says it felt like her finger would 'explode' after spider bite

Woman, 28, says it felt like her finger was going to ‘explode’ after she was bitten by false widow spider and had to undergo surgery

  • A mother-of-three almost lost her finger due to an infected false widow bite 

A woman was forced to have surgery on her finger after what she thought was a spot turned out to be a false widow spider bite that developed into a pustule so painful she thought her ‘finger would explode.’

Crystal Rudd, 28, first noticed the painful pimple on her finger on March 25 and tried to pop it with a sterilised pin.

However the Lincolnshire mother-of-three said the pain didn’t go away and she went to A&E a few days later where medics suspected it was a horsefly bite.

She was sent away with antibiotics and told to take antihistamines – but the swelling continued and the redness in her hand was beginning to spread to her arm.

In actuality, Mrs Rudd had been bitten by a false widow spider – the most venomous arachnid in the UK. 

Crystal Rudd, 28, had the scare of her life after she was bitten on her finger and required surgery 

The mother-of-three claims she was bitten by a False Widow spider (pictured)

Initially she assumed that the small mark on her finger was just a spot 

But as time went by the bite began to fester, swell and become more painful 

The spiders were first spotted in the UK in Torquay in 1879, and it is thought that it may have made its way to these shores from Madeira or the Canary Islands in a shipment of bananas. 

According to the Natural History Museum, while the spider has a venomous bite it is not particularly potent. 

Their guidance reads: ‘Although false widows do have a venomous bite, the venom is not particularly potent. Usually the only symptom is pain at the site which may radiate away from the bite.

What is the false widow spider and what to do if you get bitten

False widow spiders are distinctive for their shiny, black flesh, bulbous bodies, thick legs and skull-like patterns.

Millions of false widows, Britain’s most venomous spider, have been found across the UK and the population is believed to be growing.

The species has a brown bulbous abdomen with cream markings that look like a skull. They have long legs and can reach about 15mm in size.

Also known as steatoda nobilis, the spider is frequently confused for the black widow, which has deadly venom.

The Natural History Museum says that warmer summers mean the spider is spreading northwards through the UK, having previously been found mainly in southern England.


The first thing you should do is wash the area thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection – and don’t scratch, as if you break the skin there’s more chance for bacteria to get in.

Cover bites with a plaster and apply an antihistamine sting cream to calm any inflammation or itching. Any redness, pain or swelling should subside after three days.

Be alert to potential signs of infection, such as weeping blisters or painful swelling, that continue to get worse after a few days. If this happens, seek advice from your GP.

‘It ordinarily lasts between one and 12 hours, and rarely for more than 24 hours.

‘Often, the symptoms are no worse than the pain of a wasp sting.

‘There are sometimes reports of false widow bites that present with more sinister symptoms like rotting flesh and excruciating pain. But these are usually not backed up with formal spider identification.

‘The extreme side effects experienced are most likely the result of a secondary infection, likely bacterial, if the wound is not kept clean.’

By April 1, Mrs Rudd was in so much pain she couldn’t sleep and said her finger was so tight and sore it felt like it was going to split open.

She said: ‘The pain began to become excruciating.

‘It began to grow bigger and bigger.

‘I was prescribed stronger antibiotics but the pain was so bad that I couldn’t bend my knuckles properly and it was too painful to look after my children.

‘I had to ask my eldest – who is eight- to help me get dressed because I couldn’t move my hand.

‘The pain was down to my elbow, it was all around my forearm like it felt bruised and tender like I pulled a muscle.

‘My finger where I was bit, it was angry red and very tight it felt like my finger was going to split open.

‘It felt like my finger was going to explode.’

The next day her husband Stephen Rudd, 25, took her to Peterborough City Hospital.

Medics took blood and X-rayed her finger before telling her it was False widow spider bite.

She was rushed for surgery on April 3 where doctors cut her finger open to clean and remove the infection around the knuckle join.

She said: ‘In A&E I saw a triage nurse who I showed the progression photos to.

‘She said it looked like from the photos it’s getting better.

‘I said it’s not and it was very painful but she suggested I go home and carry on the stronger antibiotics.

‘I was in shock I didn’t know what to do.

‘I wanted the pain to stop and I felt I wanted to cut my finger off to help as it was so tight and swollen.

‘I asked if I could have someone else look.

‘On the ward I had a doctor speak to me and he said ‘that looks like a false widow spider bite’.

‘He said he doesn’t mess about and gets things done.

‘He said I would have an operation, they wanted to cut from my knuckle to just past the bite to clean it and remove the infection and around the knuckle join.’

Eventually the pain became unbearable and she took her finger into hospital to have it looked at 

Crystal was rushed for surgery where doctors cut her finger open to clean and remove the infection

Following her surgery she still doesn’t have mobility in her hand as it is bandaged up and might need physio for her finger in the future

Mrs Rudd was released a few days later but she still doesn’t’ have mobility in her hand as it is bandaged up.

She said she might need physio for her finger in the future.

The stay-at-home mother said she wouldn’t want anyone else to go through the same terrifying ordeal and is urging people to be vigilant around spiders.

She said: ‘In recovery I woke for pain relief it felt horrible but when back on the ward I felt relief and I was glad it was done and the pain in arm, elbow had gone.

‘The next day I had the doctor back in the morning he got a nurse to remove the bandage to have a look and change the dressing.

‘I saw my finger I felt sick and was shocked how bad it looked.

‘I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through what I did being in that pain.

‘Not being able to get dressed, cook, I wasn’t able to mother my children.

‘I went to A&E very early on when I noticed in two days but some people may not and go for even longer than I did.

‘People need to be vigilant.’

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